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Grady Istre – FIELD DOGS

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Analysis of a blind retrieve casting


Using indirect pressure
When a problem arises during the training of your dog, it’s tempting to go directly at the problem to solve it. In most cases, that works. But, before going directly at a problem, an assessment of the personality of your dog will determine the proper training approach that should be taken.

For instance, if you have a sensitive, or low-prey-drive dog, going directly at any problem may not be the best choice. Instead, day-by-day repetition, leaning a bit to the positive side of the command or the problem you’re dealing with might be a better answer. For any dog, harsh discipline can have dire consequences, and in some cases, it can create more problems than the one you’re trying to deal with.


Take for example, the steadying of your dog (going before sent). You can put your dog through a formal steadying format, which will usually involve some form of medium-to-severe discipline during the process.


Or, you can demand an elevated standard of performance through­out all of your basic training, which will allow your dog to choose to be steady on his own.


The steadying of a dog is the last of the basic training skills I teach because his natural eagerness to retrieve should be developed first. This gives the trainer a unique opportunity to use the other three skills of the basic training process to steady his dog using indirect pressure throughout the three procedures. Also, If you intend to teach your dog to take hand signals, you’ll be rewarded by having many more opportunities to reinforce his steadiness while teaching that demanding skill.


Let’s take “heel and sit” as an example. By using a step-up-the-ladder disciplined format to teach this skill, you can encourage your dog to become steady.


With your dog on a leash, you should gradually increase the demand that your trainee heel properly and sit properly when given the command to do so.


Once your young dog understands the nuts and bolts of the heeling drill, you can introduce the heeling stick, or, if you prefer, the Whiffle bat. When used properly, these two training aids can create a mild form of discipline and elevate your trainee’s overall discipline level, which will indirectly help with his future steadiness.


The second discipline in the basic training program is “force fetch.” This skill is usually taught by pinching the dog’s ear with your thumbnail to make him take hold of a bumper. Making your trainee sit before demanding he take the bumper from your hand reinforces the “sit” command as well. His obedience with this drill will also help with his steadiness.


The third of the basic skills we teach is “come-on-command.” Again, as in other drills, your dog should be on a long leash. This skill includes an introduction to the electric collar, and really elevates your dog’s discipline level. This drill teaches your dog to come when he is called on the whistle and “here” command. Then, your trainee must learn to sit as you walk away from him after he has been stimulated with the electric collar to come. As you might imagine, this really helps with the steadying of your dog.


It’s a judgment call on your part, fellow trainers, as to whether or not you are going to go directly at a problem or use the indirect pressure method I have outlined above. Both methods are effective. The character of the dog you are training will dictate which method you choose.


Have fun training!


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Grady’s articles generally appear every two weeks in WON and he can be reached at reibar.com.


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